Remember how much you were affected the first time you watched Martyrs, the highly evocative, blood splashed 2008 French/Canadian cult classic from Pascal Laugier? Whatever feelings you might have encountered screening that particular piece of French New Extreme Cinema will be nowhere to be found should you choose to check out the 2015 American remake, as piloted by the Goetz Bro's, the guys responsible for 2013's Scenic Route, and starring Troian Bellisario and Bailey Noble. Of course, if you were anything like me, you wouldn't go into something like this expecting a return of much of anything, and I didn't, and what I expected, in the end, is what I got. In this, only the audience gets tortured...
"That cloud looks like Roman Polanski..."
In this loose re-imagining, a ten year old Lucie (Troian Bellisario) escapes from the warehouse that has been her prison and ends up in an orphanage, a introverted shy mess, until she's befriended by fellow orphan Anna (Bailey Noble), who realizes that her deep-seated psychosis should be treated with freshly stolen chocolate chip cookies and cloud gazing at the playground. Ten years later, we see that Anna's homeopathic madness remedy has failed, as she abruptly interrupts a family's breakfast with a vengeful shotgun full of shells. She calls Anna to the crime scene, relieved that the buckshot-stuffed cadavers before them are the ones responsible for her childhood imprisonment and torture, but Anna isn't so sure. In fact she tries to help the dying mother escape in between Lucie's bouts of self-abuse, where she believes she's being punished by a feminine creature that represents a young girl that she couldn't rescue at the time of her escape, but Lucie manages to finish her off, before trying to finish herself off, aware that her best friend knows she's fucking mad as lorries, free-falling from the top of a staircase.
I now qualify as a martyr for sitting all the way through this one.
You might recall that Lucie slits her own throat, being faced with psychoses that refuse to disappear, despite having violently rid herself of her real-life boogymen in the original movie, well, that sort of downer has no place in the remake. She survives her suicidal tumble long enough to be set upon by the very similarly sadistic associates of the original family she's just fed lead-wiches to, and they reward Anna for returning their merchandise by burying her alive in the corpse-filled pit outside the house. While they get reacquainted with doing rotten off-camera things to Lucie, Anna digs herself out and dramatically bursts in to save her, with pistol in hand, only to find that they've put her on death's doorstep, and they've gathered around her with hopes of hearing transcendental secrets of the universe before she shuffles off her mortal coil. I'd share the finale with you, seeing how spoiling it has already been handled by the filmmakers themselves, but I'm left feeling angry with myself, having written too much about this thing already...
"The preserves are all over the floor and the guests'll be here in less than an hour...."
The screenwriter has stated he wanted to move away from all the signature on-screen violence in the original, and the results are surprisingly tame, by anybody's standards, and I'm not just addressing ultra-gore hounds here; even a mainstream crowd would be hard pressed to flinch at anything in the remake.With no bloody edge, and a useless rewrite of major plot points in the final reel leaves viewers feeling like they've just spent an unjustified hour and a half watching yet another pointless remake. Because that's what it is, and what it would have been, even if the filmmakers paid due respect to the nihilistic 2008 film, which really didn't need a remake in the first place, especially not one with positive Hollywood twists. See the Laugier film, avoid this one altogether. One Wop.
"There's so much happiness behind my tears, I pray you beat me for ten thousand yeaaaaaars(name that song lyric)!"